Former Community Dental Clinic employee Lisa Morales-Campbell of Colorado avoided jail time under a last-minute plea agreement, but will carry on her record a theft conviction and must pay $25,000 in restitution.
“To decide whether this is justice, you have to understand the value of services people in our community went without because this money was stolen,” said Melanie Hall, who came aboard as the clinic’s director after the theft was discovered and Morales-Campbell’s 2012 charges.
The clinic provides basic dental care for children, veterans, seniors and others who cannot afford it.
Morales-Campbell, once charged with seven counts of theft and accused of embezzling more than $172,000 from the nonprofit clinic between 2007 and 2008, on Wednesday pleaded to theft as a class-1 misdemeanor.
She had been set for trial starting Dec. 7; the District Attorney’s Office announced her plea and sentence Thursday.
On Wednesday, Lisa Morales Campbell entered an Alford plea, under which a defendant does not explicitly admit guilt, but acknowledges conviction is possible. The courts draw no legal distinction between an Alford plea and a guilty plea.
Lisa Morales Campbell has 30 days in which to write a letter of apology to the clinic; Hall said this is to be reviewed by prosecutors and the public defender before being sent along to the facility.
Morales-Campbell must also pay subpoena costs the clinic incurred.
The agreement did not call for jail, probation or useful public service. Hall said that while the clinic would have liked to see Morales-Campbell ordered to perform UPS, probation is one more expense to the public.
“The District Court entered judgment against her and Lisa Morales Campbell stands convicted of theft. The conviction is not subject to later dismissal,” the DA’s announcement said.
Lisa Morales Campbell had in May entered a plea agreement that would have given her a deferred judgment for one count of theft in a series. It called for $1,500 in restitution and another $1,500 in court costs. This plea was also given as an Alford, and under a deferral, she would have avoided a conviction upon successfully completing the terms of her sentence.
District Judge Jeff Herron rejected the plea agreement because it didn’t meet requirements pertaining to restitution.
Lisa Morales Campbell’s attorney said previously that the evidence is weak; that at the time of the thefts, the clinic was sloppily run, and that other people could have perpetrated the thefts.
The full amount alleged to have been stolen from cash receipts would have paid for nearly 5,800 dental cleanings for children, Hall said in May; further, the thefts left staffers feeling betrayed and the clinic unable to purchase supplies.
“The participation from Community Dental Clinic was essential to this case. The clinic expended a great amount of time and effort in providing detailed information to law enforcement and to this office for the prosecution of this case,” the DA’s Office said.
The case serves as a reminder of the need for proper accounting controls and systems, the DA said.
“Under new leadership, Community Dental Clinic has completely changed its way of doing business and is prepared to continue to serve the Montrose area.”
Business owners who would like to learn more about effective accounting controls can contact the DA or local law enforcement agencies.
“The day she left, the thefts stopped,” Hall said Thursday. “Lisa Morales Campbell admitted through this plea and now we can move on.”
People v. Lisa Morales Campbell,
Montrose Court Case No. 12CR248 One December 2, 2015,
Lisa Morales-Campbell pleaded guilty (Alford plea) to Theft as a class 1 misdemeanor for stealing cash from the Community Dental Clinic. The district court entered judgment against her, and Ms. Morales-Campbell stands convicted of Theft. The conviction is not subject to later dismissal.
The district court ordered Ms. Morales-Campbell to pay restitution to the Community Dental Clinic in the amount of $25,000.00 and to pay certain costs incurred by the Clinic. Judge Herron also ordered Ms. Morales-Campbell to write a letter of apology to the victim within 30 days.
The participation from Community Dental Clinic was essential to this case. The Clinic expended a great amount of time and effort in providing detailed information to law enforcement and to this Office for the prosecution of this case.
This case involved the theft of cash receipts from the Clinic, and stands as a reminder to all businesses and organizations of the need for proper accounting controls and systems to avoid being victimized. Under new leadership, Community Dental Clinic has completely changed its way of doing business and is prepared to continue to serve the Montrose area.
Any business that would like to learn more about effective accounting controls can contact the Office of the District Attorney or their local law enforcement agency.
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